Friday, August 4, 2017

Thinking About Being Literate

4th graders drawing their understandings of a Greek myth (Newark, NJ)
What it means to be literate has never been stable as being literate is more about the many ways we interact with language as it forms who we are and are not than it is about a particular skill set. What drives definitions of literate behaviors here in the US are the high stakes assessments states give annually. These do not embrace contemporary understandings of being literate. Composing is still limited to essayist products, and children's capacity with reading is measured by performance on identifying and naming answers to already codified bits of knowledge.

The tacit domain is sleepy.

When we understand literacy as multiple literacies that get made and reading and writing as modes of mapping rather than modes of replication--than complexity has room to breathe and notions of learning arise alongside experiences as they unfold, enfold, and (re)fold. How 'literacy' as a singular entity is situated is more a reflection of a deep desire to maintain order by those whose power depends on maintaining territories and separations. There, learning is more about tracing, not mapping--for in the world of standards, codification is king.  The shifts as I see them are not housed solely in technologies, but rather find expression in the deterritorialized spaces that open up via curiosities, explorations, misunderstandings. And other tacit impulses.  

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